I wish to share something special on this Valentine’s Day, but I also want it to be real. Gooey sentiment abounds in the commercialism of this day, so I want to share something that won’t be lost within the abundant (and often dutiful) sappiness. I wasn’t sure what I might offer until I read TheGodGuy‘s post Valentine’s Day “Massacre.”
I have seen statistics that support the statement, “Marriage is being massacred!” It only stands to reason that, as more marriages fail, the following generation has fewer role models demonstrating how to make marriage a success. If people are looking for alternatives like “temporary contracts,” then those same people recognize the failing condition of the institution of marriage. However, you cannot assess the quality of an apple by comparing it to an orange.
Pre-arranged marriages thrive in cultures that also create pressures to enforce those marriages, not because any spiritual challenges are embraced. There can be no comparison to a culture where people attempt to employ Love as the foundation for marriage. TheGodGuy suggests that the problem lies in not recognizing God as part of the marriage contract. If people accept the predominant western (Christianized) belief that “God is love” (1 John 4:8 KJV), then those who choose Love as the foundation for marriage are acting reverently. Regardless of whether they are religious or not, a Shekhinah should naturally form between people who love one another. It would be rash to presume that the massacre of marriage is evidence to the contrary.
The origins of marriage, at least in some cultures, apparently revolved around matters of inheritance; men wanted assurances that those who would inherit their estate were truly of their bloodline. Marriage founded on love indicates that the institution is developing along a positive path. Pre-arranged marriages remain from a previous stage in that development, and there are reports that some cultures which adhere to this practice also practice the mutilation of women’s bodies. This raises a question in my mind about the role of domestic violence in the massacre of marriage, and therefore, is the sanctity of marriage more important than the well-being of the participants?
The “increase of online dating services” is not evidence that people desire the “intimacy that marriage promises.” People have been known to marry for the wrong reasons, and a technological development is not a measure of human behavioral development. The alleged massacre of marriage is more likely evidence that people still marry for the wrong reasons. Unless one lives in a social vacuum, it is hard to ignore that the desire for power, money, sex, and convenience still produces marriage contracts; marriage is treated more like a business than a holy union (which is often the case with pre-arranged marriages.) Temporary contracts make sense if people subscribe to these culturally capitalistic values, but such values do not preclude the use of dating services.
It is true that people do not like change, but change is one of the few constants in our world. Temporary contracts not only make sense in this changing world, but they may be the salvation of marriage as a union founded in love. Let those who want to engage in a union for capitalistic values engage in temporary contracts because the needs and desires of both parties will change, and laws should be altered or enacted to reflect the legality of such contracts to protect the interests of both parties. This would then leave marriage as the proper vehicle for a holy union born of love, and the massacre could be alleviated. Aren’t prenuptial agreements evidence of capitalistic values corrupting the sanctity of marriage?
It is ironic that dominant religious factions in the United States fear same-sex marriages will corrupt the sanctity of marriage, but fail to notice the adverse effect their culture has had on marriage. The dominant religious factions within the United States appear powerless to instill the high ideals of their God within their own congregations. Marriage cannot be massacred without the help of a dominant demographic segment of the population. Perhaps they should pay more attention to what goes on in their own backyard, instead of judging and persecuting minorities like the LGBT community, Pagans, Atheists, or anyone else. Perhaps they could incur some respect for the laws of God, if they incurred some respect for the Law of the Land in the process!
I do not disagree that marriage is being massacred, or that some responsibility falls on the shoulders of influential religious factions. I do believe that there are many individuals who desire the intimacy that marriage suggests, but have been tainted by the realistic observation that marriage promises nothing. I believe this is actually the result of a society that has stopped teaching its young basic social skills.
The current generation of adults has become so preoccupied with careers and leisure, that important matters have been left to strangers to teach their children in the schools. For example, there are groups within the U.S. that want Judeo-Christian creation lore taught in public schools. The legal issues should not be paramount here, but rather the question: why do people want strangers teaching their sacred traditions? Are they too busy or too lazy?
An essential lesson not being taught to young people today is a matter of honor; if your word means nothing, then you are a nobody. This is the difference between the intimacy marriage suggests and the intimacy marriage promises; the marriage vows are meaningless if not backed by honor. Today we teach that nobody can be trusted, get everything in writing, but having it in writing is still no guarantee, so pay close attention to how things are worded. The end result is a nation full of bureaucrats looking for loop holes. However, we choose to follow this teaching, so we can still change and choose the path of honor. Honor is essential to Love because Love involves trust.
A second essential lesson not being taught to young people is that Love has nothing to do with receiving; Love is exclusively an act of giving. I frequented public events in my youth with the purpose of increasing my exposure to romantic possibilities. We didn’t have online dating services in the 70s and 80s, we had dance halls, which seems preferable over online dating services because you usually have fun regardless of whether or not you meet that special someone. A song came out with the line “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places” which opened my eyes. I realized that most people were so busy looking for love, that few were showing it. Frustration will continue in this matter from generation to generation until people learn this simple truth about Love being an act of giving.
A third essential lesson not being taught to young people is that change is constant and inevitable. If you are alive, you are growing, and therefore changing. The same holds true for anyone you choose to entangle yourself with. If you and/or your partner are not growing and changing, then one or both of you are either dead or an extreme bore. Boys always seem to like girls just the way they are, then the girls change. Girls want to change their guys and they do change, but often not the way the girls planned or expected. Despite the immature tendencies of youth, most do not seem to recognize the possible effects of change in a long term relationship, much less whether they are prepared to deal with that.
A fourth essential lesson not being taught to young people is that it takes two to Tango, and it takes two to make war. We always have the ability to choose. We can choose to grow together, or to grow apart. However, if one chooses to grow together, but the other chooses to grow apart… need I say more? This brings us back full circle to a matter of honor and how much trust you can have in a potential marriage partner, or that they can have in you, when trying to make a good choice in Love. Nothing is ever guaranteed, though.
I finally settled down and married the love of my life at the age of thirty-six. We will have been married twenty years come September. Our marriage has been no bed of roses, and many thought we would never last. We did have many obstacles to overcome, and there were times when I wondered if we would end up divorced. We still encounter obstacles in life, but we understand each other much better now. We are now amazed at how often we agree on things, but I don’t believe either of us has changed; we have simply learned how to understand each other.
I didn’t want to marry someone like myself in that they agreed with me on everything. As a human being, I am imperfect just like anyone else, so I actually wanted a partner whose strengths would balance out my weaknesses, and vice verse. I certainly found her, but that meant we had to work out our differences. Our fiery trials tempered our relationship, so we now seem able to simply take the challenges life offers in stride.
I cannot imagine being married to anyone else. I know that she is only concerned about my well-being by her words and deeds. I don’t need to be too concerned about my well-being because of her concern, which leaves me with more than enough time to be concerned about her well-being. I only hope that my words and deeds reveal my love for her, as her words and deeds reveal her love for me. It certainly has been worth the work it took to get to this place. My wife, Bobbi, is the love of my life, my soul-mate, and the best Valentine I could ever have.